Overqualified Employee: A Liability Or An Asset?

Overqualified Employee: A Liability Or An Asset?

You nailed the interview and fulfilled all the job requirements but the employers still turned you down? Why were you turned down? The frustrating reason given by the employer is that the company will look for another candidate since you are ‘overqualified’. This bombshell has been dropped on a lot of candidates over the years and has caused frustration among those who failed to get a job despite being well-educated and experienced. The situation is not that easy for the employers either, who are interviewing a perfect candidate with a lot of experience but cannot hire him because he is overqualified and might not stick with them for long.

What Does Being ‘Overqualified’ Mean?

Overqualified is a term that is applied to any candidate who has more experience and level of education than what is required for the job. It appears to be a good thing to the layman but the managers and employers show the tendency to ignore such candidates in favor of those who fall within the parameters of the given requirements. Actually being overqualified is not a negative thing and can be beneficial for the company but there are a few issues that can arise if a firm hires a person who is overqualified for the job. What the company managers have to decide is whether they can deal with the problems that arise after hiring an overqualified person or do they feel better hiring a person who fulfils just the desired criterion. In most of the cases, the employers choose the second option.

Pros And Cons Of Hiring Overqualified Employees:

Like all other situations, hiring overqualified in an organization has both positive and negative aspects. In order to evaluate a situation properly and reach the right decision, we have to take a look at all the aspects.

Benefits Of Hiring An Over Qualified Employee:

There is no doubt that hiring an overqualified employee is not without its benefits. Some of these benefits are:

Level Of Experience

When an employee with a lot of work experience joins your firm, he brings a lot of experience which is good for the company. Previous experience is the most valuable thing in a prospective employee and the more experienced he is, the more able he is to deal with difficult situations.

Healthy Competition

When a highly experienced and well qualified employee joins the company, it will give rise to healthy competition. The rest of the employees will try to match the high standards being set by the more experienced employee and work harder. Thus a healthy competition will be started, which will improve the outputs of all the employees in the long run.

A Source Of Inspiration

The more experienced and well educated employee will become a source of inspiration for other employees, who will want to learn from his experience and will perform better in the long term.

Downside Of Hiring An Overqualified Employee:

When employers meet a candidate who is overqualified for a job they have some basic concerns that stop them from hiring him for the position. The basic concerns are:

Switching Jobs At Better Offer

Since a candidate is overqualified the managers will be concerned that he might leave the job as soon as a better job offer comes by. Since a candidate is applying for a job that is below his level of expertise and education, the obvious conclusion drawn by the employer is that the job seeker is desperate for the job and will apply anywhere at any post.

Demand Higher Pay

Since the candidate is overqualified and has a lot of experience, the employer feel that he might be asking for a much higher salary than what is feasible for them for a certain job. This makes the situation less favorable for the candidate as the employers feel that they should keep looking for a more appropriate candidate.

Lack Of Motivation

The employers feel insecure while hiring someone who is overqualified because they feel that the work will not be challenging enough for him and he will get bored quickly, loosing focus and motivation. When an employee loses focus he instantly starts looking for another job and thus becomes a flight risk.

How To Deal With An Overqualified Employee?

While there might be a lot of problems with hiring an overqualified employee, if you handle him properly he can prove to be an asset for the company in the long run. It is not as hard to deal with an overqualified employee as most of the managers think. Here are a few things you can try to make sure that the overqualified employee you have hired does not turn into a liability:

Maintain A Healthy Environment

A healthy and productive work environment is essential not only for improving the efficiency of the employees but also for the overall growth of the company. An overqualified employee might get more restless and bored if he is working in a nonproductive environment where he feels that he cannot work at his maximum potential. Make sure that the work environment in your company is conducive where the employees feel motivated to work at their maximum potential.

Make Them Feel Valued And Respected

The worst thing that you can do to an overqualified employee is make him feel undervalued and humiliate him. It is never wise to make your employee feel undervalued but since the overqualified employee will be more sensitive to such things so you have to make sure to be appreciative and understanding. If your attitude towards the employee is condescending, he will start looking for another job where he will feel respected.

Keep Challenging The Employee

In order to retain an overqualified employee, you have to keep him motivated. To keep an employee motivated you have to keep challenging him by giving more interesting projects. Mundane routine makes them question their own productivity and gives rise to dissatisfaction.

Utilize His Expertise

If you have an overqualified employee on the team be sure to utilize his experience rather than feeling threatened by it. His expertise is a valuable asset for you and you can utilize it for the progress of your company.

What To Do If You Are Being Labeled As Overqualified?

Enough has been said about overqualified employees and what the management can do to deal effectively with them. As for the jobseekers that have been labeled as overqualified, there are a few things that can help in turning the label into a positive thing. Here are a few tips that will help you in landing a good job despite being overqualified.

  • Show you are willing to work at the position that you have applied for. You should have a valid reason for applying to a job that is below your level of experience and expertise otherwise the employers will assume that you are just desperate for a job.
  • Be enthusiastic about the job that you are being offered. Show how you can bring stability and growth to the company. However, make sure that you do not appear pompous or a show off.
  • Emphasize your loyalty to previous employer. Give references if you left the employer on good term. You have to establish that despite being overqualified you are not a flight risk.
  • Show a positive attitude at work. Do not be lethargic or monotonous in your routine. It will make the employers feel like you are losing interest in the job and might leave soon.
  • Articulate your capabilities well and emphasize on the level of sophistication you will bring to the job. Show them that you are willing to work hard at a job that might be below your level of expertise because you believe you can improve the quality of work.
  • Do not push hard for a higher salary as it will make the employers think that you are not a goal oriented person. By all means ask for the salary that you deserve and is appropriate for the position that you are working for but do not go completely overboard.

40 thoughts on “Overqualified Employee: A Liability Or An Asset?

  1. A very well written article and very good depiction of the situation. Each and every word of it sounds true to me as I have experienced it and am one of the victims. I appreciate Rozee.pk for sharing such a valuable information.

  2. Very good written information. It will be useful to anybody who employess it, including myself. Keep doing what you are doing – for sure i will check out more posts.

  3. Dear and respected ROZEE.PK team,
    Hope all of you are fine and doing well, nice tips of interview.
    Hope I will receive more informative articles from your end
    I appreciate your nice effort.

  4. Article was quite informative and the guidelines were not bookish at all. Same happened to me in my early job hunting days (some 10-years back). It was my 2nd job hunt, when I resigned from my very first job within 6-months due to some serious family issues. I was getting a handsome salary and suddenly was left with zero money in my pocket. I was actually desperate for the job when I applied for a receptionist, having MCS degree in hand. Luckily got the job with 1/8th of my previous salary, then focused on my skills and got promotions as well more opportunities within next couple of months. Then never looked back and shared same with all my juniors for their guidance.

  5. If it is so then one should be informed that you are over qualified because sometimes it ruins the lives of employees if they are turned down repeatedly without knowing the reason.

  6. In my opinion over qualification can never be a liability for an organization irrespective of what ever compensation he/she getting by employer. However, recognition, fruitful environment makes this asset as profitable for the organization. Nice Article

  7. It is no doubt an important topic to be touched upon. As always it was a good effort by the ROZEE.PK team.

  8. A very motivational article which explores self confidence and innovation in all domains of professional life.

  9. A good article, a common problem in our country where employers want to get employees on cheap salary as compared to a qualified person

  10. The topic discussed is truly considerable. It happened to me when I was selected on a seat that was in fact not according to my qualification.

  11. I strongly agree with the term over qualification and thanks to ROZEE.PK for sharing such a nice information, in fact the same was happening with me, that’s why I really appreciate this research.

  12. Very good insight! In fact I am facing the same situation. Over the years I have not only continued to enhance my academic qualifications and professional development, but also worked as a very proactive and forward looking employee. Working with full devotion and proven results. Credit also goes to my employers who gave me the opportunities to develop and progress alongside the organization. With the result that in less than 15 years time, I reached the point which people take life time to reach. Simultaneously my pay package also became fat. In between there were only twice that I shifted from one company to another. However, with recession my last company (where I had been working for 8 years) closed down. I searched around but places which were according to my qualifications and salary package were already filled. So I had to opt for an organization/ job where I was overqualified and settle for a lesser package too. It has been a year now and already I am being considered as one of the prized employee of the company. I received a performance excellence award in the 7th month of my service, with a standing ovation from all.
    Trick is that you have to internalize this thought that each day you have to give ur 100% to the company may whatever the position or package. Nobody came to u, u went to them. So love it or leave it. Choice is all yours. With this positive mindset there won’t ever arise a question that any company would label you as over-qualified, or any manager / boss will feel threatened.

  13. Quite inspirational article which has actually boosted my moral as I am in the same situation and still trying to find a suitable job howerver after reading this article I shall now try my level best to understand the situation more closely before I attend any further interview.

  14. Good article but hiring an overqualified employee saves you from experiments, which a fresh candidate do when they enter an organization, on the other hand its all about how you handle a overqualified employee.

  15. It is a good article and fit for the current economic situation. Moreover many highly educated and qualified people are affected by this.

  16. I read the article and yes I do agree to most of the things as they are no doubt basic and obvious things. Now the issue is why does the management or employer promote such employee after a short term. They can mark it an example for other staff to show that if you are good at your job, you can be promoted sooner. Nowadays many people who are not MBAs or are unaware of the computer basics do attend courses even if they are in there 40’s or 50’s thats because they are motivated by these young guns who are highly qualified and thats not a bad thing at all. Its just that actually the employer is afraid of Overqualified employee as may be some day the employee may try to correct the employer over some issue and they take it negatively.

  17. Fine, article. The title of the topic was so interesting in itself that it forced me to go through the page. Well, hiring an overqualified individual will surely become beneficial if
    a) the nature of the job is assignment based. As every assignment is different than previous, that means overqualified person will use his/her optimal expertise to complete it in more fascinating way, so that it may look better than what was done in similar assignment before him/her.

    b)the nature of job is Project Based.

  18. The points are valid and this is very helpful for the people who are tagged as being overqualified. I request all such employees to please read it carefully and follow this in your next interview. Wish you all the best.

  19. Very informative article. It really shows the true picture of our job market. Many times managers do not hire overqualified or even qualified staff just because they feel insecure in hiring an employee who might take their position in the future. On the other hand it is blessing for the lesser qualified persons who get the chance to gain experience.

  20. Dear Writer, this is valuable information about overqualified employees. But in my experience overqualified people are overconfident when they get a job and they leave your company when they get the better job. If someones is above your companies requirement please do not hire them.

    And the second one is that if you are overqualified, what to do ….
    1) if you are a highly qualified person please please seek a job where your job description and qualification match.
    2) If you got a job in the company which never suits your qualification you will be underestimated all day by the employees and the higher staff.
    Amir Shahzad

  21. Very useful information given in your article. No sincere person want to enter in the position for which he is overqualified but due to unemployment problem they have to do the same.
    In long term employment, overqualified employees are always beneficial to company.

  22. I read your article about over qualified employee and yes I agree with it. It happens all the time with every qualified or overqualified employee. I would like to use this opportunity to highlight another prominent reason for not hiring the overqualified employee. The managers do not opt to hire these employees, because most of them are under qualified or foreign qualified. The under qualified ones fear that this employee can take their seat or can be difficult to handle with their less knowledge and experience, while the foreign qualified managers go with their foreign set parameters, in which most of the overqualified local talent is ignored by these foreign qualified managers.

  23. I Love ROZEE.PK’s articles. They are of great help to me. It has increased my knowledge alot. Thank you ROZEE.PK.

  24. Thank you very much for providing new and valid information to me and in my opinion the overqualified candidate is an assets for an organization if he properly treated.

  25. After the fall of the Textile Industry so many highly qualified and experienced people were left jobless. Still, most of them are suffering and some of them are being leveraged for less salary.
    I was an entrepreneur and had a towel manufacture business. In the year 2008 my entire business fell flat on its face. After spending most of the savings I started looking for a job. I got hired as the General Manager in a Ticketing Agency at a very low salary. I did my best, did everything mentioned in the article but there was a conflict between me and my boss. So I quit. I switched career to livestock and dairy development. I am happy because if this is a new career to me I am new to this industry as well. Thus, my being ‘overqualified’ sits down each time I face a situation ‘blood rush’My unique approach towards any new job is that I offer my employer a ‘3 months trial’ just for T.A.D.A — This is what I did to my current employer, didn’t ask for a buck during first 45 days of my ‘trial’. After showing my skills to my boss we finally agreed upon a salary that fitted us both.

  26. Thank you very much for sharing of this article that has made me learn a lot. Thanks ROZEE.PK

  27. A very healthy and relevant professional discussion which need to be analyzed by the hiring agencies according to their vision and strategy. To be more specific, it could have diversified effects within different sections of an organization. For some sections, overqualified individuals are can be assets and for some, a liability.

  28. I read your contents regarding overqualified candidates and I very much convene with your experience and your suggestion.
    Abdul Hafeez

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